Monday, 3 April 2017
I saw Michael Schenker perform on his "Michael Schenker & Friends" comeback tour after he stopped touring following an alcohol related breakdown. Due to the small size of the venue I got to stand right in front of Michael and got to view close up his phenomenal guitar playing. All of the Michael Schenker Group & UFO classics were played that night and there was no doubt in my mind that he was back. His career since then has continued to rise on an upward curve with sell out tours, successful albums and a recent reunion tour with former MSG vocalists Graham Bonnet, Gary Barden and Rob McAuley. His guitar playing continues to inspire me, although I would never have discovered the second MSG album or Michael Schenker if it hadn't been shared with me from an unlikely source. My Maths teacher, Mr Sanders, knew that I liked heavy rock and taped some MSG and Gillan albums for me and whilst my Maths skills remain patchy at best, my love of these albums has remained throughout the years. So thank you to Mr S (The Maths) and Mr S (The guitar wielding legend).
One former Great Western line which is now part of the preserved rail network, is the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway. The line was built and opened in 1906 and whilst local passenger services ceased to operate in the 1960's, the line remained open for freight until a serious derailment in 1976. This happened when a coal train heading for Totton near Southampton derailed near the site of the former Winchcombe station. The damage to the line was deemed too costly to repair by British Railways and the line was closed and lifted by 1979.
The story doesn't end there however, as a group of dedicated volunteers formed the GWSR in 1981 with the intention of preserving and reopening the line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Stations have been restored or rebuilt at Toddington, Winchcombe and Cheltenham Racecourse with new stations currently being rebuilt at both Broadway and Hayles Abbey. Whilst the railway achieved its goal of reaching Cheltenham in 2003, they are now raising funds via a highly successful share issue to ensure that trains will return to Broadway in 2018. This will be the first time trains have stopped in the town since 1960 so it will be a significant milestone. At present a new station is being built on the site of the old one, whilst trackbed preparation, ballasting and tracklaying is continuing as well. Having travelled on this beautiful line a few times I can't wait to visit Broadway station when the trains return next year. The railway's longer term ambition is to extend beyond Broadway and to link up with the Cotswold line at Honeybourne, which would mean the line would have a connection to the main line network once more. Plans have also been suggested at extending the line south of Cheltenham Racecourse to the Prince of Wales stadium, but right now the focus is all on Broadway.
Last Sunday he returned to the club for a well earned testimonial game even though he left the club in 2015. His nine years at the club were memorable ones with FA Cup Final, Premier League promotions and other Wembley appearances. In a visible sign of how much he remains respected, the amount of former players who turned out to play in this game shows how popular he is. It was great to see the likes of Robert Earnshaw, Neil Alexander, Craig Bellamy, Mark Hudson and many more coming back to the City for the day. Like with many other football clubs you never forget your favourite players, I still look back on YouTube on videos featuring my City heroes like Cohen Griffith, Phil Stant, Carl Dale, Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd. McNaughton's goal against Hereford in 2008 is also one I watch regularly as he wasn't the most prolific of goalscorers. Superkev's team won the testimonial game on penalties after a 5-5 draw and he scored the winning penalty. It was a fitting end to his time with the club and he will always be welcome at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
At one point City were rock bottom of the Championship and looking like certainties for relegation to League One. Whilst City are 18th and only 6 points away from the relegation zone, Saturday's dramatic 3-2 Severnside derby victory against Bristol City has shown a new found resilience that the team didn't have earlier in the season. Players who struggled to find form such as Aron Gunnarsson, Bruno Ecuele Manga and Kenneth Zohore have started to excel in a playing system that suits the strengths of our playing squad. The mood around the camp seems to be more optimistic as the club is being run on a sound financial footing (partly due to necessity as a result of FIFA's financial fairplay rules) but the club is starting to feel more like the Cardiff City Football Club that we have known and loved for years. The football on offer is generally more entertaining and worth watching after the last few years of Russell Slade's borefests and the excitement and expectancy of waiting for the next game is back. Neil Warnock has played a big part in organising the team and in turning the team around. Hopefully the foundations for future success can be laid this season and a genuine promotion push can happen next season.
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
The experienced former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock has emerged as the bookies favourite to take over and he would be the ideal candidate for the job. The question is would be want to work with Vincent Tan?
Monday, 23 May 2016
Turner (pictured left) will be remembered for his excellent and wholehearted performances for the club including his equaliser against Liverpool in the 2012 Carling Cup Final. Today's picture captures the moment when he removed his shirt and twirled it around his head after scoring this goal. The following season he formed a solid central defensive partnership with Mark Hudson and helped the club to win the Championship League title in 2013. Unfortunately over recent seasons Ben has suffered from a series of injuries which has resulted in him not being offered a new deal by the club. Birmingham City and his former club Coventry City are two clubs who have expressed interest in securing his services and I really hope that one of them signs him up. It is sad to see him go, but thanks for the great memories Ben. You will always be a Bluebird to us.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Incredibly Velikonja signed a four year deal with the club but has rarely played first team football for us. Rumours of him being a "Vincent Tan" signing during the Mackay era could be plausible as he has spent most of the last few seasons on loan to clubs in Europe. Last season he scored 21 goals in 23 appearances for FC Lierse and with his contract due to expire this summer it would be a big surprise if the club retain his services.
Following the appointment of new Head Coach Paul Trollope yesterday, the club is due to announce its retained list next week. Fringe players such as Filip Kiss, Ben Turner and Velikonja are likely to be released when their contracts expire in July. Other players such as Eoin Doyle, Adam Le Fondre and Tom Adeyemi could be sold or loaned out again and the likes of Bruno Ecuele Manga and David Marshall are sure to attract attention from a host of Premier League clubs. Cost cutting has been promised again this season as City look to balance the books and attempt to become more profitable. It is likely that more players will have to leave to free up the resources to bring in the new players that Paul Trollope wants to add to the squad. There is also the possibility that we may see more players come through the ranks from the youth academy system. Over the years this system has given us the likes of Aaron Ramsay, Joe Ledley, Robert Earnshaw and James Collins who have all gone on to play at the highest level for both club and country. Hopefully we can add the likes of Declan John, Deji Oshilaja and Tommy O'Sullivan to that list this year.